One of the main issues with clothing is that the pieces we buy at the mall aren’t well made and often fall apart within a few months. This leads us down a never-ending circle of purchasing, discarding, and repeating.
The idea of slow fashion is not only purchasing clothing that was made fairly but also slowing down the rate at which we purchase clothing.
But how can we do that when our clothes (for the most part) weren’t made to last?
It can be tempting when transitioning into ethical fashion to toss all our fast-fashion pieces out and start fresh, but we know this only adds to the pollution problem. So what do you do when your closet is filled with poorly made pieces designed to fall apart?
We take care of them and we make them last a lot longer than they’re intended too.
How to take care of your clothes:
1. Change your mindset
In order to ensure your clothes last a long, long time we have to start at the foundation of the problem: changing the way we see our clothes.
Clothes should be able to last us years and years if treated properly, yet they’re often designed with trends in mind that have a short life span.
We should buy clothing so that first of all, we’re not naked. And second, we feel confident and good in them.
We shouldn’t buy clothing at any given time so that we can fit in and be “trendy”. This way of thinking waste money and clothing.
2. Steer clear of trends
Speaking of trends, try and stay away from them altogether. I know how tempting it can be when a new trend pops up that’s so cute and everyone’s wearing it. But just as quickly as trends come they disappear only to be replaced by a new one.
Then what do you do with those pieces? Will you still wear it when no one else is? Or will you buy the next trend that comes along and discard the old one?
As much as we’d all like to believe we’re not sheep blindly following trends and trying to fit in, we as humans are so easily influenced by one another.
We could get into some serious psychology behind trends and how we just want to be like everyone else and be “cool”, but I won’t get into it now.
The bottom line is that trends are not made to last, they are made to be cool for a little bit and then replaced quickly. Which is the opposite of slow fashion.
Opt for timeless, classic pieces that will never go out of style.
3. Buy quality over quantity
I know, I know. We hear it all the time. But there’s such a good reason for it. It can be so easy to spend $100 at H&M and get 10 items vs getting 3 items for the same amount at an ethical shop.
H&M and other fast-fashion brands don’t design their clothes well or make them out of quality materials. So you may get 10 items today for $100 but you’ll probably have to replace all those pieces within a year or two.
Whereas the 3 quality items you got from an ethical brand we’re designed with natural, quality materials could last you upwards of 10 years if taken care of.
So what’s really the cheaper option?
4. Wash your clothes less
We over wash and over sanitize everything. I’m not sure when we got so grossed out over a speck of dirt but that’s another post for another time.
Washing your clothes too often stretches them out, makes their colors fade, and can weaken the material. Not to mention the waste of water it causes.
The average American washes their jeans after every two wears. Jeans don’t need to be washed that often. Unless you spill on them or get them noticeably dirty, you could wear them 10 times before washing. Doing so preserves them and reduces water usage by up to 77%.
What you can do instead of washing your clothes after each wear:
- Get into the habit of putting your clothes back in the drawer or on the hanger at the end of the day instead of tossing them in the hamper.
- Don’t be afraid to do the sniff test. If they have a slight smell but not to bad you can hang them outside to air out or stick them in the freezer for a few hours. (Yes, I’m serious.) The cold air helps eliminate odor.
- Change into work or dirty clothes when doing chores, crafts, or working out to prevent dirtying your other clothes.
- Spot treat spills or splatters with a little water and Castille soap.
5. use gentle and natural detergents
Commercial detergents use an onslaught of chemicals that are harmful to both us and the environment. But did you know they’re also harmful to our clothes?
Their job is to clean out clothes which they do, but they do so in a very aggressive, non-gentle way that can actually wear fabrics down and stretch them out over time.
You can find the recipe for my all-natural detergent here.
6. Hang to dry
This is a quick tip. If you have space and the time, try hanging your clothes to dry instead of using your dryer. Dryers can also be rough on our clothes and damage them over time.
Especially pay attention to your clothes tags if they say to hang or lay flat to dry. There’s a reason they say that. It’s to help preserve the clothing longer.
7. Treat your clothes gently
We’re busy humans, I get it. It can be so tempting to throw your clothes into a pile on the floor at the end of the day and just crawl into bed.
Try getting into the habit of putting your clothes away after wearing them. No, I don’t mean putting them in the laundry hamper. I mean folding them or hanging them nicely where they belong.
One of the main reasons people wash their clothes is because they’re wrinkly or smelly. Tossing them in a pile on your floor is a surefire way to achieve both of those things.
Treat them gently to prevent premature washing and lengthen their life.
8. Learn how to mend
You don’t have to be a seamstress to know how to patch a hole or sew a rip. We live in a throw-away culture where if something is damaged, even ever so slightly, we throw it away.
Rips and holes happen, even in quality clothing. And nothing sucks more than getting a hole in your favorite pants and thinking you have to throw them away.
Youtube is flooded with tutorials and I’m sure your mom or grandma would love to teach you how to mend as well.
And as someone whose been sewing by hand since a kid, it isn’t that hard to do. If a kid can do it, you can do it!
Your clothes and your wallet will thank you.
Taking care of our clothes and treating them as more than just “trends” and things to be thrown away is the key to saving money and helping out the environment. And it’s really not that hard either! It just takes a few extra moments of mindful consideration!
Thanks for reading, I hope you liked this post! Please don’t forget to share it and follow me on Instagram for daily low waste living and ethical fashion inspiration!